Evidence for NMDA and mGLU receptor-dependent long-term potentiation of mossy fiber-granule cell transmission in rat cerebellum

Egidio D'Angelo, Paola Rossi, Simona Armano, Vanni Taglietti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a form of synaptic plasticity that can be revealed at numerous hippocampal and neocortical synapses following high- frequency activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. However, it was not known whether LTP could be induced at the mossy fiber-granule cell relay of cerebellum. This is a particularly interesting issue because theories of the cerebellum do not consider or even explicitly negate the existence of mossy fiber-granule cell synaptic plasticity. Here we show that high-frequency mossy fiber stimulation paired with granule cell membrane depolarization (-40 mV) leads to LTP of granule cell excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs). Pairing with a relatively hyperpolarized potential (-60 mV) or in the presence of NMDA receptor blockers [5-amino-D-phosphonovaleric acid (APV) and 7-chloro-kynurenic acid (7-Cl-Kyn)] prevented LTP, suggesting that the induction process involves a voltage-dependent NMDA receptor activation. Metabotropic glutamate receptors were also involved because blocking them with (+)-α-methyl-4-carboxyphenyl-glycine (MCPG) prevented potentiation. At the cytoplasmic level, EPSC potentiation required a Ca2+ increase and protein kinase C (PKC) activation. Potentiation was expressed through an increase in both the NMDA and non-NMDA receptor-mediated current and by an NMDA current slowdown, suggesting that complex mechanisms control synaptic efficacy during LTP. LTP at the mossy fiber, granule cell synapse provides the cerebellar network with a large reservoir for memory storage, which may be needed to optimize pattern recognition and, ultimately, cerebellar learning and computation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-287
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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